Along with its Kia Ceed kissing cousin, the Hyundai i30 has been quietly playing an important part in the Korean car industry’s plan to gain mainstream global acceptance. The hatchback has already established itself as a competent player in the Golf/Focus sector, with only its badge and bland styling stepping in between it and critical acclaim.
The arrival of the estate i30 should significantly expand Hyundai’s profile in the sector, even if the longer, more accommodating version fails to advance its aesthetic cause one iota.
Does the world really need an estate version of the Hyundai i30?
Well, actually it does. Okay, so the popularity of the midi-MPV is burgeoning, but that doesn’t render the concept of a small estate redundant by any means. In fact, if the success of the Kia Ceed SW is anything to go by there’s healthy demand out there.
The transformation involves a fair bit more than the addition of a cargo net and new tailgate, though. There’s a selection of all-new panels from the B-pillar back, and a usefully longer wheelbase and overhang – the end result is significantly improved accommodation for passengers on top of a boot that boasts a capacity of 1395 litres.
Click 'Next' below to read more of our Hyundai i30 Estate first drive review
What’s it like inside?
The i30 might well be a sea of grey plastics inside, but at least they’re soft-feel, and there’s a splash of design flair in that dashboard. Blue instrument backlighting and high quality switchgear hint at the premium sector, even if there are still one or two sharp edges if you go looking.
The part-leather seats are supportive and well trimmed, and forward visibility is excellent – this is a car that you’ll find genuinely comfortable on a long motorway run. Your passengers will, too.
The level of standard kit is certainly generous at this price level – in Premium form you get a high-quality sound system with iPod connectivity, all-round electric windows, 16-inch alloys, cruise control and parking sensors. To kit out a Golf or Focus to a similar level you’re looking at the thick end of £18,000.
So it’s good value, but what’s it like to drive?
The 113bhp 1.6-litre CRD is usefully punchy, and at no point does the i30 feel underpowered. Keep the revs between 2000 and 4000 and keeping up with the flow is hardly an effort. The 0-60mph time of 11.7 seconds belies this car’s liveliness.
Currently i30 is denied the Hyundai/Kia 2.0-litre CRD power unit, and that means no sixth gear – but at UK motorway speeds, it’s a hushed and refined cruiser without ultra-long legs.
Handling and ride are biased towards comfort, and for many drivers the floaty ride and body roll might not exactly instil them with confidence. But it’s safe enough once you dial into this and acclimatise to the inert steering. If it’s a responsive drive you’re looking for, buy a Focus Estate – or more intriguingly, a Kia Ceed SW.
Click 'Next' below to read our verdict on the Hyundai i30 Estate
The i30 estate builds on the general air of quality present in Hyundai’s most recent products – the interior is solid, and general fit and finish is on a par with the Japanese opposition.
The 1.6-litre CRD is punchy enough to compete with the best in the sector, and on the road, it’s refined and smooth in a way that few others at this price level are. It lacks sportiness and keen drivers will hate the softish suspension set-up, but there are many who will appreciate the direction Hyundai has taken.
The design is a let-down, and the i30’s overall aura of blandness may lead the uniformed into concluding that it’s a substandard product. It isn’t. If a lack of inspiration is all you can seriously throw at this car, then that’s a true measure of the mountain that Hyundai has climbed in recent years.
Overall, the i30 estate a useful and easy-to-live-with hold-all. By keeping its head down, it makes its way in this contracting market sector with aplomb.